Metropolitan Cricket League
By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 31st Anniversary):- Cosmos completed a convincing 64-runs victory over New Hope at Chamonix Park in Philadelphia last Sunday and subsequently buried the devils from a mankading Staten Island loss a few weeks ago on a graveyard pitch in Philadelphia. Some cricket pitches have a reputation of being ‘a green top’ however that is not a phrase in this ‘matting’ part of the country. The pitch surface under the matting at Chamonix Park was a field of greens and certainly not one for the feeble minded batsman.

Former Trinidad player David Mohamed hit a determined 47 in Cosmos win over New Hope.

And on this day David Mohamed showed his class and why he was a former Trinidadian national player when he summoned some heroics after Cosmos was reeling on 39 for 4 in the 15th over. He blocked and battled even though he was pushed on the back foot in a defensive mode, but his concentration was unwavering and the determination on his face was visible. And in an indomitable counterattack he battled and ultimately proved to be more powerful than any of the ghosts that dwelled among the sizeable grass roots on this pitch in which any hope of peace and calm resides in a church somewhere on mars. When the first delivery from New Hope captain, paceman D. Forrester, landed on a full length and reared off the wicket and almost decapitates the wicket keeper who went airborne, it was an ominous sign of things to come and that delivery had nothing about the ‘city of brotherly love’ written on it.

Cosmos top order had to brace themselves for a torrid time and the only thought of a stroke came in the form of self-preservation with paceman Forester rearing in. He orchestrated the damage by sending back the first four batsmen, after he had won the toss and inserted Cosmos to bat. Faisal Taj holed out at square leg when he fended at sharply rising delivery. Richie Sieuchand edged to second slip from one that reared off a good length. Cyril Choy was choked by a first ball that lifted sharply and struck him a severe blow on his thumb; he then lost his stumps in the next ball to one that kept low. Ganesh Ramsingh countered briefly, but couldn’t get his glove out of the way to a ball that kicked off a good length and he feathered it to the wicketkeeper, 23 for 4. Keith Edie (17) took a few body blows but he dug in with Mohamed to add some stability to the inning in a 30-runs partnership, before he feathered one behind, 53 for 5 in the 18 over.

Sohan Dass joined Mohamed and Cosmos had two experience campaigners at the wicket. David survived to a few that kicked but either missed the outside edge or fell just short of the slips. Patience was virtue in these circumstances and this pair waited for anything that was loose and dispatched it to the boundary. It was a crucial period of recovery for Cosmos and the partnership had grown slowly to 29 runs before Dass (18) pushed loosely at one that deviated, he lost his footing and was stumped. Ralston Levy then nicked a raising delivery behind, 91 for 7. David though remained resolute and measured in his approach as he engineered a few mini partnerships while constructing a total which Cosmos could defend on a graveyard pitch, and a heavy grass outfield that would have been a feast for the sheep. Mohamed then spanked two huge sixes over midwicket in his attempt to push the total along, however, he was relieved of some of the pressure when Tegana Mckenzie wielded a wicked willow in a calculated ‘stand and deliver’ counterattack as Cosmos pushed passed 125 runs for 7 in the 32. This 34-runs partnership proved to be crucial before Mohamed popped one to cover that climbed on him and he went for a dogged 47 runs. Cosmos tail then planted another 20 runs to post a fighting total of 143 for 9 off their allotted 35 overs. D. Forrester was the pick among the bowlers with 5 for 23, and K. Fritz 2 for 26.

Richie Sieuchan bagged 3 wickets for 6 runs. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Cosmos need an early spark and when Keith Edie dived low to his left at gully in the first over and came up with a stunning catch to remove P. Dewar off Sham Ali, it sparked the adrenaline rush for Cosmos. Ali then got one to climb on C. Pandeya and Levy held on to a sharp catch at point. A. Campbell had a few that flew passed his edge before he decided to challenge the pitch and swung 14 runs off Dass. That brought an early change in the bowling attack and Ricky Kissoon, as he has done so often, was on target with a penny-pinching spell to keep the match in balance. The danger-man Q. Alfred survived a few confident appeals when he had more pad in play than bat against Kissoon who was virtually unplayable on this wicket. Kissoon eventually nicked Campbell’s edge and Choy did the rest. Sieuchand was equal to the task with flight and variation before he induced Alfred into a rash swing, the ball flew high to backward point where Ramsingh circled under it and held on for dear life. With the score on 59 for 4 off 15 overs at the break the match was evenly balance, in thought at least.

Cosmos needed to shift gears and a few tight overs on resumption was the perfect recipe as the runs dried up. Cosmos was brilliant on the field from the outset and were even more nimble on their feet as the match progressed as kept the pressure on this opposition. Tension slowly seeped into in the equation as it often does in these conditions as Cosmos timed the opportunity and turned the knob a little tighter. Levy extracted bite, bounce and turn, and Sieuchand with flight and variation combined for a lethal potent as they backed this opposition into a corner. Forrester who had caused some havoc earlier was now on the receiving end to a barrage of gamesmanship while playing a lone hand. He padded nervously to point and took off for in an ill-advised run. Edie was the man who sparked the adrenaline earlier and was in motion again as he darted in from point to run out M. Brooks (6). Taj was inspired and affected an even more spectacular run out from square leg when his shy clipped the bails to find a diving Haughton (0) dissatisfied, but well short of his ground. Sieuchand then drew J. Allen (2) out, and Choy, who had rallied like an old soldier throughout the match with a busted thumb, picked off a neat stumping.  Mohamed then trapped Forrester and suddenly the match turned dramatically and so did the crowd as Cosmos went for the jugular. Sieuchand picked up 3 for 6 off 4.1 overs, Levy 1 for 8 off 4 overs. Kissoon 1 for 18 off 7 overs, Ali 2 for 18 and Mohamed 1 for 7.

But, Philadelphia is a city that is rich in American history and is also known as ‘The city that loves you back’. While the lawns at Fairmont Park are well manicured it is unfortunate that the grass on Chamonix cricket field is left to grow for the sheep, and the cricketers are treated like second class citizens. And so in a match that was full of paradoxes Cosmos respectfully obliged New Hope with a quick dose of ‘brotherly love’ within the space of ten eventful overs after the break to cement an emphatic 64-runs victory. New Hope though is an excellent team that played a good standard of cricket; however, they were victims of their own circumstance to a Cosmos team that was just too good on this day.